Hamanako Art and Craft Fair 2009

I attended the Hamanako Art and Craft Fair this past weekend. The first day was zero sales, the second day was a little better. Lots of people. Interesting work.

I am trying to figure out why I generally don’t sell that well at these kind of events. The easy answer is ” Well boy, your stuff just ain’t good enough” which I will leave open as a possibility. I would rather assume there are other variables at work, some of which may be about the kind of work I am bringing to the fairs.  At Hamanako I tried to only bring stuff I wanted to bring instead of bringing items I thought might sell. First day sales should put the lie to that.  Another thing I am very interested in is the art of selling things in these conditions. Very difficult nut to crack. I worked out a rough scale of progression towards a sale,  “10” being money changing hands. “0” being no chance.

0 = person walks by without a glance.

1 = walks by with a glance in the general direction of the stall.

2= stops or slows down. This is difficult. If they slow down and do a “moving” touch it seems there is actually very little real interest in an actual purchase.

3 = full stop. Make sure to check your zipper at this point, there might be something else at this point.

4 = casual browsing. I usually want to start a conversation at this point but almost always let a “Hello” suffice.

5 = some browsing and glances my way. Touching of the work. This is an important point. There is often a turning over of the piece to look at the price and a quick exit from the area. Price seems to play a large component at this level. Hamanako had a large number of these. One even gasped that the piece was 2,700 yen. I didn’t mean to but I burst out laughing. I hope I wasn’t heard.

6= some comments about the work. Comments that show interest in what the need for the piece move this type of interest up a number. Comments to me about country of origin don’t count here, they actually move the scale back down a few depending on the details.

7= touching of the work with comments to self or person they are with.  This always seems to be the best place to start a conversation.

8 = A comment or conversation on the need they have for the piece they are interested in.

9 = Silent looking and/or looks that can be interpreted as final decisions but conflict on which one is better. Usually price doesn’t play into the equation at this level of interest.

10 = sale.

I wrote about a whistle maker here and how he has figured out some golden truth about fairs. He was at Hamanako doing his thing so I was very interested to see if his Yamaguchi experience I wrote about before was going to be repeated. It was difficult to tell as I wasn’t next to him but it seems he didn’t sell the number he did in Yamaguchi.

Things to do if you have no sales.
Buy a sno cone.
Take pictures of dogs.
Do a test of others sales by counting bags. The first two bags had cup of ramen in them as did a few of the others. Over all, very few bags. Some rakes though.
Senile act of the day.
I completely replaced a potter I met with a different one.
I know two potters. One does Bizen type, the other a style I don’t really have a name for but is close to Oribe. Both are typically polite Japanese; indistinct, read-able if
scrutinized closely, like faded ink on a page. Both are married, both have been to my house to see my kiln, the Bizen guy came seemingly to eat the Belgian waffles we made, the
other guy to buy ceramics and jewelry my wife makes. The Oribe guy is 10 years younger than me, the Bizen about the same as me. The Bizen guy wants to build a large new kiln as
he lives out in the country, the Oribe guy lives in Nara City and fires an electric kiln.
I ran into the not Bizen potter at Hamanako and completely mistook him for the Bizen guy. Completely mistook needs explanation. All the file cards in my head were replaced in my
mental filing cabinet with the files of the Bizen guy. Completely replaced. I commented on the total change in style of ceramics, marveled silently at how he and his wife seem so
much younger than the last time I met them, offered to sell him the extra bricks I have left over from my kiln, asked him about a gallery deal he had going on, wondered why he

knew so many people in Nara. When I got back to my tent commented to my wife all of the above, including the fact the couple are actually much younger than us.. Surely you are mistaken, my dear husband. Moi? Mistaken? Impossible. When I found out I spent the next hour marveling at the totality  of the filing mistake.

Catfish John.

Man playing a leaf

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